On WJMJ, Catholic radio, Archbishop Henry J. Mansell stated that, “Some would say that the war on religion was formally declared,” when the federal government passed the health care insurance mandate requiring that all employers (with few exceptions) pay for health coverage that covers sterilization, contraception, and medication that induces abortion – all practices that go against Catholic moral teachings.
“This development runs clearly in the face of the Bill of Rights, providing in its First Amendment freedom of religion. Never before in the history of the United States has the federal government forced citizens to pay for health insurance that violates their religious principles,” said Mansell.
The archbishop made his feelings known during a two-hour broadcast moderated by the Rev. John Gatzak, general manager of WJMJ, on Wednesday evening. He said that Catholic relief services, colleges, universities, schools and hospitals would be impacted. He noted that 16 percent of the nation’s hospitals are run under the auspices of Catholicism.
“If this goes through, we would have no Catholic hospitals or Catholic charities, said Mansell.
The archbishop was joined by Michael Culhane of the Connecticut Catholic Public Affairs Conference, the public policy and advocacy office of the Catholic Bishops in Connecticut.
“This is an affront to our religious liberties,” said Culhane.
Listeners flooded the broadcast with phone calls voicing their comments and questions. An 82-year-old woman called to say that she was appalled by what was happening. In her lifetime, she couldn’t remember the government being so intrusive. A caller from Meriden said that all religions have to band together, because there is “strength in numbers,” while an atheist commented that although he didn’t practice a religion, he certainly believed in the Constitution of the United States. And, while some are viewing this as a controversy over contraception, Vincent McCarthy, a constitutional lawyer, called in to say that the mandate was clearly unconstitutional, because “It is forcing the Catholic Church to pay for policies that they believe are wrong.” “I see this going all the way to the Supreme Court,” he said.
Mansell and bishops across the nation are urging people to call their local legislators in opposition of the mandate. “Votes make the difference,” he said.